Just before the bishop’s video message, Duddy-Burke delivered what she called a “Pride Blessing.” Her remarks depicted a narrator hearing a voice: “You have been judged worthy and holy of my delight. Therefore go with pride, which is not sin for you but salvation, a promise of liberation for all. You are my beloved. With you I am well pleased.”
CNA had sought comment from the Diocese of Lexington but did not receive a response by deadline.
Another speaker was the Irish-born Father Bernard Lynch, a member of the Society of African Missions until he was expelled in 2011. The event described him as a longtime member of Dignity New York and a “married Roman Catholic priest.” In his memoirs, Lynch has claimed to have been religiously married to his same-sex partner in 1998, with the blessing of a Cistercian monk. He said he has officiated at same-sex ceremonies. He contracted a same-sex civil partnership in 2006 and a same-sex civil marriage in Ireland in 2017.
At the Zoom meeting, Fr. Lynch gave a “blessing for couples” which claimed that through the power of God’s love, these couples have “asserted a stubborn faith in the justice of your reign and co-equality of all people.”
“Bless them, Lord, in their covenants of love as LGBTQI couples. They are true prophets of Jesus Christ and his gospel” he said.
Other Dignity USA “video blessings” came from Mary McAleese, past President of Ireland, a vocal LGBT advocate and critic of Catholic teaching on sexual morality. Previously she has called Catholic teaching “evil” and contended that it “conduces to homophobia.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Miguel H. Diaz also spoke. Diaz was President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the Vatican from 2009 to 2012. He is currently the John Courtney Murray S.J. Chair in Public Service at the University of Loyola Chicago theology department.
Diaz presented a poem he said was inspired by St. John of the Cross before saying to the LGBT audience:
“Blessings on you who patiently wait as you resist in spirit ungodly beliefs, teachings and stereotypes which attempt to extinguish your light.”
“Blessings on your families, your friendships, your loving unions, may they all participate in and celebrate the mystery of God’s triumph of queer love,” said Diaz, adding “you are called to be a prophet of God’s love.”
Before the event, Dignity USA circulated a “Pride Blessing” statement that blesses self-identified LGBT, intersex, and queer people as “a unique and glorious reflection of God's astounding creativity and love.” They “create new kinds of families formed by love rather than by law,” and “seek to worship in spirit and in truth.” Their prayer “arises from humble hearts,” and they are “reviled and persecuted, yet persistent in faith, hope and love,” in the words of the prayer. They “dare to bring the truth of who you are into loving relationship with others—you heal and strengthen the body of Christ.”
Dignity USA rejects Catholic teaching on sexual morality, the nature of marriage, and the ordination of only men to the priesthood, among other issues. In July 2015 it and several other groups called for the Catholic Church to recognize same-sex unions as sacramental marriage, what it called sacramental equality. Dignity USA’s funders have included the Arcus Foundation, founded by billionaire heir Jon Stryker. The foundation has funded LGBT activists that have helped split Christian denominations over controversies about ecclesial authority, marriage, and sexual morality.
Other co-sponsors of Tuesday’s event include the Institute Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, NETWORK Lobby, the Maryland-based WATER feminist theology group, and the Women’s Ordination Conference. In addition, other co-sponsors are Faith in Public Life and the Human Rights Campaign, which have led some communications and advocacy campaigns against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops or against individual Catholic bishops. The National LGBT Task Force was another co-sponsor, as was the Tyler Clementi Foundation, an anti-bullying organization named for a college student who died by suicide after his roommate secretly recorded him kissing an older man in their dorm room.
Some of the speakers at the Pride Blessing have faced allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct.
Diaz, after his term as ambassador, became a professor of faith and culture at the University of Dayton. The Ohio university in 2013 found “reasonable cause” to believe that Diaz sexually harassed a married couple while a professor there and engaged in “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, particularly after being told to stop.”
Fr. Lynch, the priest in a same-sex marriage, was named in a November 2019 lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court. The lawsuit alleged that Fr. Lynch sexually abused a teenage student at Mount St. Michael Academy in 1978 and 1979, where Fr. Lynch served as campus chaplain, the Irish News reported.
In 1989, a Bronx court acquitted him of sexually abusing a different teenager at the same school. His accuser recanted his accusation on the courtroom steps, saying he had been pressured to make the accusation. Fr. Lynch had denied the allegations, contending he was the subject of a “witch hunt.”